Western Saharan musician/ activist Aziza Brahim’s new album Abbar el Hamada (Across the Hamada), is a commanding and compassionate musical statement about, and for, the tumultuous age in which we live.
Raised in a Saharawi refugee camp in the Algerian desert, and living in exile for more than two decades, Brahim’s life and music embodies both the tragedies and hopes of the present-day migrant and refugee experience
As walls and borders are again being raised though-out Europe and other corners of the world, Aziza Brahim’s passionately sung poetic defiance, is especially timely and profound.
Brahim’s previous album, the resplendent Soutak, made great strides towards spreading her message of liberation and resistance. Soutak spent an unprecedented three months atop the World Music Charts Europe, and was the chart’s top album for 2014. An appearance on the legendary BBC television program Later with Jools Holland further cemented her growing reputation.
Soutak not only confirmed Brahim as the most important Saharawi musician of her generation, but it also gave evidence that she had become one of Africa’s most respected young musical voices.
Recorded in Barcelona in the summer of 2015 with Soutak producer Chris Eckman (Bassekou Kouyate, Tamikrest), Abbar el Hamada, is a wholly persuasive example of Brahim’s pan-musical vision and is her most compelling and varied album to date. “It is meant to be a diverse, powerful album,” she says, “where Saharawi traditional rhythms (such as Asarbat and Sharaa) are mixed with drums and rhythms from West Africa (particularly Senegal) and of course Mediterranean sounds and rhythms also.